point therefore creating rotational forces thatmultiply the load many times over (dependingupon the geometry of the machine and its liftingequipment). Forces created are invariablymany times greater than the rating of the slingsor chains used. Load swing whilst a machineis travelling, or unexpected movement of themachine whilst lifting gear is attached, areother commonly reported problems that causecontact with, or crushing, injuries and fatalities.
Excavators Used as Cranes
Using excavators as cranes is a high riskactivity because lifting is not the primarydesign function of these machines. Anumber of dangerous occurrences haverecently occurred where chains, shacklesor master links have either deformed or broken whilst loaded. Such incidents occur primarily because the load is not freelysuspended from the lifting point. Instead,lifting equipment is wrapped over the lift
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For further guidance refer to: BS EN 474: 2006Earth-moving Machinery, BS 7121:2006 Codeof Practice for Safe Use of Cranes, the LiftingOperations and Lifting Equipment Regulations1998, the Provision and Use of Work EquipmentRegulations 1998 and other safety alerts issuedby OPERC (www.operc.com).
load connection procedures; interpretingthe machine’s lifting duties limitationsat varying radii, over the front, side andrear of the machine (dozer blade up or down); travelling with a load; and loaddisconnection procedures.
Pedestrians must be segregated from the‘operational area’ of the excavator and itstransport routes; these routes should have
good clear signage and appropriate trafc
control measures. The use of hands-freemobile technology should be consideredto maintain good communication at a safedistance with site management and/or slingers during any lift or carry operations.Site managers should be knowledgeablewith regards to safe lifting operationsand must take an active role in planning,monitoring, controlling and managing alllifting operations on site. The lift planand method statement should becommunicated to all operativesinvolved.Vehicle routes should avoid
signicant obstacles, uneven
ground and inclines, particularlyif across the direction of travel.Where the route is near to adrop, such as an excavation or embankment, extra support or barriers should be provided for the edge of the route.
Excavators should only be driven by fullytrained, competent operators who havebeen authorised to do so and any operationshould be accompanied by a suitable riskassessment. The nationally recognised
qualication for competence within Britain isa Scottish/National Vocational Qualication
(S/NVQ) Level II Plant Operations.For lifting operations, operators mustalso provide proof of both training andcompetence for using excavators ascranes. This will include knowledge andskills relating to: pre-lift checks; differencesbetween various lifting accessories or machine attachments (e.g. quick hitches);
Before using an excavator as a crane,
a thorough risk assessment should beundertaken to determine whether alternativework processes could be used to avoidlifting operations or whether a differentitem of equipment would represent asafer choice.The operator has a duty to conductmaintenance and inspection at the start of each working shift (for example, of chains,shackles, hooks and slings) to ensure theyare suitable for the lift, clearly marked witha safe working load and in good workingcondition. A full and complete record of allmaintenance and inspection undertakenmust be kept and any defective machineryor lifting gear found should not be usedunder any circumstance.The excavator must always be operatedwithin its capability and if in any doubt, theoperator should consult with the operationsand maintenance manual supplied by theOriginal Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).Excavators that are used for lifting aresubject to a thorough examination and testat least every 12 months. Machines must
also be tted with an audio-visual safe load
indicator and lift capacity at various radiishould be clearly stated. Lifting eyes shouldbe closed, not open and rated by the OEM.When travelling, machine stability willbe improved by reducing travel speeds,crowding the load into the machine as far asis safe/practicable and keeping the load lowto the ground. When placing the load intoposition, engine revs should be lowered totortoise mode and the machine’s boom anddipper manipulated to move the load intoposition. At all times, the load must remainfreely suspended.